The Core Elements of a Successful Fundraiser

Let's get right down to the nuts and bolts here.
If you are going to do anything to advance your sports program, you need money.
And forget about a crack team - you're it.

Hey I’m Jim Reiner, creator of the fundraising fast formula. I created this webpage to talk about you and your specific situation...

If you’ve got a baseball team or youth sports program... and you need donations... and you are looking to take it to the next level in fundraising, then this is a great day to be you!

The formula I’m going to show you is almost like money in the bank.  At the end of the day your baseball or softball program is either growing or stagnating.  Your energy and enthusiasm is critical... Either it is growing or you’re getting the life sucked out of you. 

Many people just like you have used this information.  So, here’s what I invite you to do:

  • Think about how this applies to your situation. 
  • I’ll show you how to do fundraising. 
  • And we’ll look at three case studies and how they relate to your current situation.

OK. Time to dive in.  You are about to upgrade your efforts.  Read, take notes, as go through this page.

So how do you do fundraising that
gets you the donations you need for your
baseball or softball program? 

The goal of this workshop is to show you the critical things you need to do to… for the objective that is right for you.

The first lesson will focus on the first core strategy that most successful fundraisers do when you are just starting out or even if you have already done fundraising. 

There are stories out there about folks who raised tens or hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. 

But, this is not a get rich quick gimmick. It’s a formula that requires some real work, but has been proven over and over by myself and others.  It works in many different businesses, organizations, and programs, not just youth sports.

It comes down to one word – impact. 

So the question here is: what does meeting a fundraising goal do for you? 

  • It allows you to grow your program,
  • advance its development,
  • invest in others, and
  • make a positive impact.

Is it freedom in a way?  Yes, it is freedom, so the youth in your sports program can reach their fullest potential.

It gives you the freedom to upgrade tools and equipment.

  • Freedom to get new uniforms and gear.
  • Freedom to upgrade your ballpark.
  • Freedom to focus on developing your program.
  • Freedom of purpose – impacting people in a positive way.

I love what I do and I get to have all the benefits that go with that.

In this first of 4 lessons, I teach you about successful fundraising... and how to grow it.

But first -- 2 things that can stop you dead in the tracks. They are attitudes:

  1. – ‘I knew that’ attitude.
  2. – ‘I disagree’.

It’s easy to go there. And some of these things might seem counterintuitive or strange, but it works.  

  • It worked for the college baseball coach in Santa Cruz who raised $3,000 for his team. 
  • It worked for the athletic director in Roseville who raised $33,000 for his high school baseball team.
  • And it worked for the middle school baseball coach in St Louis who won a grant for over $70,000.
  • And it can work for you too.

But, I have to tell you that my beginnings with fundraising were very humbling indeed.

Back in 2002, I sat in the stands and watched my son’s high school baseball team take infield grounders. He was at shortstop trying to make the team as a sophomore pitcher and middle infielder.

The coach is hitting grounders. I see misplays. I walk to the backstop behind the coach.

I watch grounder practice and I see every single ball the coach hits bounce crooked! 

Some are so bad!

Then I watch my son field one that took a wicked hop at the last second. I know something is wrong.  He’s pouring his heart into his dream to play, but something is wrong.

The bad bounce ball hit him direct on his index finger on his throwing hand. He is hurt.

Something has got to change for him to have a chance with this team. Really something has to change for every one of those high school baseball players to have a chance. 

Years ago I had helped maintain a AAA Texas Rangers baseball field. But if I tried to jump out there now on that rotten high school field I would be embarrassed.

Nobody knew me or would trust me to start working on fixing this infield. It was a low moment.

I can’t bear to see my son fail due to such a horrible ball field.  He’s got talent and drive, but this field is working against him.

Well the spring baseball season went fast and there I was sitting in the stands for the last game in mid May. Some more horrible bounces.

I can’t take this anymore.

Well, I decided that success is not just something that happens only to others. I made a promise to find a way to fix this field.

I knew I could draw upon past experiences as a groundskeeper, but I also knew I needed some money to do this.

I needed at least $3000 just for a first cut at renovating the infield.

I promised I would find a way. And I would learn what I needed to raise the money to get going on fixing this.

So, back in 2002 I decided to start fixing this field. I did it in the summer. August 16-18 to be exact. Almost every day in August is well over 100 degrees there. Not the ideal time to be doing field renovation, but its all I had to go with.

  • I was able to get a local landscape company to donate all their broken bags of grass seed and fertilizer.
  • And I got a discount on the rest of the seed and fertilizer I needed for the job.
  • Then I got a huge discount on several dump trucks of topsoil and baseball dirt.
  • The rest was paid for ($1500) out of my own pocket, because, frankly I did a bad job with my fundraising and couldn't raise it all. So, I paid for it myself.

Here's what it looked like the next spring after these dirt and turf improvements:

Today some ask me how to start something like this.
How did I do it?

It’s a magic thing. A critical lesson.

  • When you start, people begin to look at you as an expert.
  • How did I get the donations and discounts? 
  • How did I get the work done?
  • Everything and everyone has a start and it is usually humble. 

Anyone can do it, you just need to decide to start.

I figured out how to raise the money and get the discounts to do a 3 day field renovation.  All I personally owned was a shovel and a rake.  I was not a professional landscaper. 

So, in June I visited the local AAA Oakland A’s sports turf manager to get up to speed on what it takes to build and maintain a competitive baseball field. I also got some good leads on the materials I would need.

In a little over 2 months I got educated fast to put together a plan and figure out how much money I needed to do it.

It was a small start, but it grew and maybe I could get better success next year.

There were so many things this high school ballpark needed, and it would take tens of thousands of dollars to do it. But I knew nothing about fundraising for such a big job. 

I needed money for this baseball field project.  I got another idea to call the top 25 businesses in the city and ask for donations.

I was scared to ask for donations and I did not want to seem like a slimy used car salesman begging. 

That’s when I came up with idea for approaching fundraiser just like the master direct marketers approach making sales. 

I needed to master - in simple terms - the approach that gets attention, tugs at emotions, provides proof, and asks for the donation.

Back then I had a hard time believing anyone would donate to my cause when I asked.

I remember the first time I got a donation.  Privately, I was stunned.

But, I had just stepped onto the train to fundraising success.

Now I know that it’s the first dollar that is the hardest to get and is also the most important because it puts you in the game.  I just got very motivated and discovered that I could do it again and get better at it. 

A few months later I took what I did the first time and made some changes and helped collect more. Repeated this year after year. 

That one in the spring of 2004 did $33,000 in just over 3 months. This completely changed everything... My son’s game, his team, the school, even my family and my life.

And most importantly, at the time, it gave my son a good chance at making a college team and a legit chance at a pro team.

How quickly my thinking changed 

The high school baseball team needed money for the team uniforms, equipment, field upgrades, and a whole slug of fees that go with playing at a competitive level. 

And we did a fundraiser that generated $33,000. It was a crazy ride. But no matter how big it gets, the most important fundraiser is the first one.

The one that did $3,000 in donations and discounts because it showed me what is possible and got me jump started.

This is for you.

  • Whether you are just starting out or
  • maybe you want to get to the next level.

This is not about luck or hope, but having the right formula and putting it to work.

So what’s the secret sauce?  How do I go from $1500 to $3,000 to $33,000 to $70,000 and more? 

It’s the fundraising fast formula.  It gets results.

People get freaked out about marketing or sales. They say, “I suck at sales.” Or they say, “I’ll get someone else to do it.” 

If you have a great baseball program or other youth program, then you owe it to your players, your students, and your family to market it effectively and get the donations you need.

Focus on the benefits the donor will receive from supporting you. 

It used to be it worked like this:

A young man would knock on your door and ask you to donate money so he could go a wonderful trip to Disneyland or spend the summer in Cancun. 

And he’d be all smiley and ask you to buy a candy bar for $10 to help him out.

All the while maybe trying to make you feel guilty for not supporting this smiley young man in front of you.

That’s the old way.

Now a-days people see through that kind of fundraising and find no reason to help a young person go have a wild vacation somewhere when we also see irresponsible young people all around us causing plenty of problems in our community. 

It makes no sense.

That old approach is not effective. Today fundraising needs transparency and authenticity.

Focusing on the benefits the donor will receive from supporting you does this.  Think of it as developing a partnership with your donor drawing on the emotion of benevolence.

So let’s summarize our fundraising workshop.

In lesson 1 here, it is about your journey and how you can really have a positive impact in your sports program. I’m showing you the opportunity to change your fundraising for the better. And then this changes your baseball or softball program for the better.

In lesson 2, I’ll show you 3 case studies where this fundraising fast formula transformed their program. You’ll see small, medium, and large scale and see which one or more fits you. 

And in lesson 3 you’ll discover what it is actually like to have this change for the better in your fundraising and how it will improve your sports program – whether it is little league, high school, college, public, private, or church.  Baseball, softball, tennis, church, or any other youth program.

So, the key in this lesson is focusing on the benefits the donor will receive from supporting you. It is primarily about a benevolent feeling of being involved. 

For example:

Instead of saying, "we need to raise money to buy new baseball bats."

Change the focus to the donor. 

Say something like this, "your donation of $25 or more will help a team of 14 players improve their hitting in practice and in games." 

Focus on how the donor helps make a positive impact.

Here’s what a fundraising consultant taught me:

The first question we ask a client is, ‘Why do you do what you do?’ And then I only work with clients who have a good program and compelling story.

Right now can be a rough time for people in need. But the charitable giving deduction is still there.  It is a lifeline for schools, religious organizations, the arts, and youth sports.  A lifeline provides support.

Encourage donors to give for the benefit of others and the good of society and to live generously instead of selfishly. The charitable deduction was put in place in 1917 and is still there today.

When someone learns what you are doing, they get wiser. They gain knowledge they didn't have before. They can use this knowledge to make good decisions.

My next lesson is about 3 case studies and tells you how it transformed their program.  You have learned to focus on the benefits your donor will receive from supporting you. 

Now add the mental triggers to your
fundraising message. 

These exist in everyone and impact decision making to make a donation. There are dozens. Here are 6:

  • Community.  When we perceive ourselves to be part of a community, then we act like it. We want to be part of something special.
  • Anticipation. This expectation of future events can have a powerful hold on us. It is like seeing the trailer for the sequel to a good movie. You can’t wait to see it. Be part of what is coming next.
  • Authority is also powerful trigger. When we perceive someone is an authority we listen. Take for example a policeman. Or the Athletic Director, or the LL President, or the Coach.
  • The next trigger is Reciprocity.  If we give something away then others feel obligated to give back. Not to be done in a manipulative way, but in a way that provides value first.
  • Another trigger is Social Proof. If we see others making a commitment to donate, then we are more inclined to trust it and also donate. Therefore, listing names and companies that also provide support to you is a great way to demonstrate credibility.
  • Scarcity is the next trigger. If there is less of something, then we went it even more.  If you are the only organization doing something that tugs at the heart of the prospective sponsor, then he is inclined to support you.

    The law of the fewer attracts us to see what is there in limited quantity. Here’s an example – maybe you are the only high school baseball team putting on a baseball skills clinic for K-8 graders.

So how does all this help you? 

You are probably in one of 4 categories.

  1. You are already involved with a group in the midst of a sports fundraiser right now. You can put to use the principles in the fundraising fast formula.  You increase your results.
  2. You are thinking about the need and value of a fundraiser, but you simply don’t have time. You need help that is basically out-of-the-box to get started.
  3. You are the only person in your program that will do the fundraising.  Quite a few youth sports programs are like this. I’ve been there too. You are motivated and want to do it right the first time because there are no second chances when you do it alone.
  4. Or you have no idea what to do.  Nothing. You are starting from scratch. That’s where I was.

Now if you fall in to one of those categories or if you want to just help others trying to do their fundraising, then the next lesson is for you. 

It is about 3 primary types of fundraisers where you can get going. 

I studied marketing for 11 years all over the US in many industries and saw that the essentials of making a sale is pretty much the same for getting a donation with one important twist.

I will also show you the magic of fundraiser stacking and how you get better as you go from one fundraiser to the next one.

So be sure to find out in lesson 2.

Right now I want you to think about this:

  1. What does it mean to you to have a successful baseball fund raiser?
  2. What would it look like to you?
  3. What would it mean to the young athletes you serve?

If you find this useful, share it with your friends. And start a conversation with those who might be helping you in your fundraising.  This will help you be even more effective and successful.

When you start something like this, some are skeptical. Some have tried before and failed and didn’t stick with it. If you take nothing else from this, there are people like you and me who are ready to step into success.

And you can do it in a way that works best for you. When you combine the right formula with hard work, the sky is the limit.

I’m not telling you how far you can go. I just want to help you make a big positive impact for you and your organization and your family.

See you in the next lesson.


Leave a comment, I love to hear from you.

  • What does it mean to you to have a successful fund raiser?
  • What would it look like to you?
  • What would it mean to the young athletes you serve?

Please note that all fields followed by an asterisk must be filled in.

The Fundraising Fast Workshop